Underperforming stallions move to regional markets with regularity once the breeding season ends, but few stand to make the kind of impact on society that E Z’s Gentleman could upon moving to Colorado.
The 15-year-old son of Yankee Gentleman will remain in service as a stallion, but he’ll also serve as a fundraiser and rallying point for the Remount Foundation, an equine assisted learning program for active military, veterans, first responders, and their families impacted by combat and life trauma.
E Z’s Gentleman was donated to the program by John O’Meara of Milestone Farm, who bought the horse at the end of his racing career and stood him in Kentucky and around the Midwest.
The horse excelled as a sprinter, winning four of 18 starts during his on-track career, including a victory in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap and in-the-money efforts in four other graded stakes races. However, he was inactive for a year between his final start and when O’Meara bought him at the 2012 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale, which left the positive momentum established in his final racing season far in the rear view.
E Z’s Gentleman never found his footing at stud, and he’d largely fallen out of service, but O’Meara was made aware of the opportunity with the Remount Foundation through “a friend of a friend of a friend.” He was introduced to Remount Foundation co-founder Billy Jack Barrett at last year’s Kentucky November mixed sales, and an agreement was reached quickly.
“He hadn’t bred a mare in a couple years, so I was just looking for somewhere to send him that could use him,” O’Meara said about the horse. “Somebody recommended I called these people and I did, and it worked out that they have a place for him and everything’s great.”
The stallion will stand at Peak View Animal Hospital in Fowler, Colo., where he’ll be available to mares for purposes including, but not limited to, racing. His advertised fee is $500, which will serve as a tax-deductible donation to the Remount Foundation.
The money from the stud fee wasn’t as important to Barrett as the good the ensuing foals could do.
Barrett, who spent his younger days at the now-shuttered Centennial Race Track in Littleton, Colo., has been a lifelong believer in the effect horses can have for people in emotional distress, and the power a racehorse in particular can have to pull folks out of dark places. A Vietnam-era veteran, Barrett spent over 40 years as the manager of the U.S. Air Force Academy Equestrian Center, where he saw that impact first-hand.
Barrett and the Remount Foundation are no strangers to the modern horse racing sphere. Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird is listed as the foundation’s official mascot and has made appearances on its behalf, and the program has received several off-track Thoroughbreds.
Having an in-house stallion to supply eventual runners for the organization’s Remount Thoroughbreds racing stable gives servicemen and women a chance to connect with those horses from the foaling stall to the starting gate at nearby Arapahoe Park.
“We work with a lot of warriors that come from various backgrounds, and up here at Arapahoe Park, there’s a huge military community,” Barrett said. “I think at Fort Carson alone, there are over 900 wounded warriors under the Warrior Transition Battalion. There are a lot of retirees in the area. We thought if Remount Thoroughbreds could have a horse to run at Arapahoe Park, we’d be bussing people up there to the horse races just to cheer the horse on.
“It’s really kind of an awareness program for our Remount Foundation and a fun thing for the families,” he continued. “One of the biggest tasks in working with these warriors with post-traumatic stress is getting them off the couch and giving them something to get enthused about.”
The Remount Foundation’s website claims that half of its participants admit to suicidal ideation, intention, or attempts before starting with the program. The foundation is cited as a leader in suicide prevention among those currently and formerly in military service and their families.
“That’s our goal, is to reduce that suicide rate from 22 per day down to whatever we can get it down to,” Barrett said. “We have super-strong support from the military community, from the leadership all the way down. There’s a much bigger purpose to this than the horses, but the horses are a beautiful part of it.”
Remount Thoroughbreds is in its infancy as a racing program, running a handful of horses in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions. Co-headed by Remount Foundation vice president Marvin Boyd, the stable picked up its first win at Canterbury Park in 2018, and a portion of its winnings go directly to the foundation.
Arapahoe Park hosts racing for both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, and Barrett said E Z’s Gentleman could be a candidate to sire runners for both breeds. Standing over 17 hands tall, Barrett said the stallion might also have an appeal to performance Quarter Horse breeders and working ranch hands.
“This horse has a fantastic disposition, and that’s what the Quarter Horse people really look for, because that’s an indication of intelligence,” he said. “Just being around this horse the little that I have, I think he could do everything but tap dance and take dictation. When you’re in the pen with him, he just has this beautiful mind.”
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